With a heavy heart due to hearing about my mother’s health, I left home to join AREC for a run that I hoped would lighten my spirits and relieve my angst. If you told me 6 weeks ago that I will be running 9 miles by today, I’d would have told you that you’re nuts. Then I’ll tell you that I would be nuts to try doing it. Well it turns out you are not crazy after all but I may be.
Before the run, one of the AREC members was selling new blue AREC team tank tops. I tried the men’s small size over my t-shirt but it felt tight. Before trying the medium, I asked Kevin if I could try on the small without the shirt underneath and he agreed. Voila! The tank top fit perfectly so I bought it. Really, I don’t know why I would buy one. I have a yellow one from years past that I rarely wear because as you know I don’t participate in races any more. I guess I’ll have to wear them on my rare routine runs instead.
I encountered Mike and Jennifer on my warm up jog to the rest room and found out the unfortunate news that Mike would need arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He will miss the Long Beach half marathon but it will still be a go for his wife Jennifer whom I ran with the previous week. After I took that short warm up jog to and from the bathroom, I felt that it might be a good day for running.
At the start of the run, I stuck behind Dona and Bhavana (the nurse whose name I forgot two weeks ago). We hit the first mile at almost exactly 10 minute pace which may have been a little too fast for my comfort. Fortunately they seemed to have eased it shortly thereafter. At two miles I took a little hop on my right foot because I felt a twinge in my left ankle. I thought I had tweaked it, but luckily it was just a misstep and didn’t get any worse. When we hit the water station at about three miles, I saw Jennifer and Ellen just a few steps behind so I joined them after the water break. I ran with Ellen once two years ago and she had gotten married since then. It was during last Saturday’s run that I heard the joyous news that she was expecting a baby. I hardly noticed the slight baby bump. Her doctor gave her permission to run as long as she did it at a pace that she can talk without being breathless. Well, that does it! I can never get pregnant because I need the breathless experience that working out gives me. Well, being the wrong gender helps. With Ellen’s non breathless running, the topics of conversation between her, Jennifer, and I ranged from their birthdays, their significant others’ birthdays, and mine which I announced that I was now officially a senior citizen, to learning that Ellen worked in the fashion industry (something that didn’t come up two years ago). Other things discussed were eye doctors, dermatologists, primary care physicians, death and dying. On that last topic, we talked about end of life care and euthanasia. I won’t expound on that because we touched on some personal matters and preferences.
All that talking took us to just short of the last mile where Ellen had to walk briefly to catch her breath. I don’t think it was the running that caused her to be briefly breathless, but the talking. So Jennifer and I went ahead. When I turned my head around to check on Ellen, I saw that Dona and Bhavana had caught up with her and she resumed running. The course was slightly short of 9 miles so I asked Jennifer if she wanted to turn around and join the pack of three who were only slightly behind us. We did that for a couple of hundred meters until we reached that last hill (2nd Street Bridge). Jennifer started picking up the pace going up and I tucked behind her before launching a counter attack. I risked life and limb (well, not life) attacking that last hill. That unwise move could have overstretched my ankle tendons again and I would have been out of running for months again. When I peaked the bridge, I eased up and didn’t attempt to roll down the other side like I used to in the past. With about 200 meters to go, Jennifer said let’s pick up the pace and finish strong. In years past, I may have taken up her challenge but this time I declined. I already took a big risk attacking that last hill hoping my ankles would hold up, so that was enough pushing for the day for me. I then returned to Dona, Bhavana, and Ellen, and finished the run with them.
There should be no more surprises about running for me since I’ve been doing it for more than 30 years, however nowadays, every running step I make surprises me. In this case, 9 miles of steps.
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